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Best places for water sports in the South West

In this article, you'll learn the following:

A land of rivers, lidos, lakes and coastlines, it’s no wonder the South West is wild about water sports. From gliding atop waves at one of the region’s award-winning beaches to paddling your way across gentle pools, there’s no end of aquatic activities to get involved in here.

Whether you live locally or are searching for things to do on your next camping trip, we want to help you get in on the action. Grab your wetsuit, don your life jacket and brace for the brisk – if refreshing – temperatures. Here are some of the best places for water sports in the South West.

The best places for kayaking

What’s not to love about kayaking? Soothing, serene,, and so often accompanied by beautiful scenery, it’s an activity even younger family members can join in with. No doubt they’ll want to – given the South West hosts some of the most spectacular spots for kayaking in the UK.

The Watersports Academy, Poole

15 Banks Rd, Poole, Dorset BH13 7PS

This location is tough to beat if you’re looking for family-friendly water sports. Set on the incredibly gentle sea in Poole Harbour, the waist-level depth means it’s safe even for young children to join in. There are both single and double kayaks available for hire. With some tutoring included, you need not worry about being a beginner.

Price range: ££-£££

How to get there: It’s no hassle to get to the Watersports Academy from Poole train station. Hop on the 60 Breezer bus towards Sandbanks. You’ll ride for about 14 minutes before getting off at the harbour’s edge on Shore Road. The centre is just a few minutes away.

Weymouth Watersports, Weymouth

Ferry Bridge Boat Yard, Portland Beach Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 9JZ

Uncover the secrets of the Jurassic Coast with Weymouth Watersports. This world-renowned stretch of coastline needs to be explored from the sea. What better way to do so than by kayak? Motorised crafts are discouraged from this section of the water, including rare geological features like Chesil Beach and Fleet Lagoon – both home to an abundance of wildlife. BCU-qualified instructors are on hand to keep everyone safe and make the experience memorable.

Price range: £-££

How to get there: Arriving via South Western Railway to Weymouth station, walk to The Esplanade and catch the number 1 bus from beside the Kings Statue. A 12-minute ride will see you reach the Ferry Bridge. Hop off and cross the bridge on foot – the centre will be just to your left.

The best places for paddle boarding

Paddle boarding is a lower-octane answer to surfing, kneeling or standing on a board while using a long paddle to propel yourself through the water. For this reason, it generally calls for calmer water than the choppy seas required to surf. Given its long sandy beaches and great coves, it’s no surprise the South West boats some of the best places to paddle board in the UK.

Weymouth Paddleboard and Kayak, Weymouth

Waterside Holiday Park, Bowleaze Coveway, Weymouth DT3 6PP

Tucked at the far end of Weymouth Beach, the crystal clear waters are the star at Weymouth Paddleboard and Kayak. When you visit on a warm and sunny day, you won’t need encouragement into the sea. A shallow gradient that lends itself perfectly to paddleboarding. Hire for various board sizes is available, including a family-friendly option that can carry up to six people – but do be aware that activity here is unsupervised.

Price ranges: ££

How to get there: Once you arrive at Weymouth train station, walk north to join The Esplanade and catch the 503 bus outside the Prince Regent Hotel. In just 10 minutes, you’ll need to hop off at Bowleaze Cove, from which it should be easy to spot the beach.

The Paddle Centre, Southampton

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The Paddle Centre, Southampton

Swanwick Shore Road, Swanwick, Southampton, SO31 7EF

The Paddle Centre is a stand-up paddleboarding and board hire favourite located in Swanwick Marina. Rent your board, paddles and safety equipment and enjoy direct access to the Hamble River. The Paddle Centre boasts various courses and activities to suit all ages and capabilities, so the whole family can enjoy a day of boarding on the river. When your session’s over, why not stick around for a drink and reflect on your day out?

Price ranges: ££

How to get there: From Bursledon, The Paddle Centre is just a 13-minute walk away.

The best places for surfing

Ready to take your water sports up a notch? Well, you’ve come to the right place. The South West is the country’s original and enduring home of surfing. Several of the region’s beaches are considered the best places to surf in the UK.

If you’re travelling with us at South Western Railway, we can’t allow you to carry surfboards on any of our services. Thankfully, there are hire options available at all these centres.

Shaka Surf Branksome, Poole

Branksome Dene Chine, Poole BH13 6JP

With sand stretching as far as the eye can see and nothing but the English Channel in front of you, Shaka Surf couldn’t be better set. This accredited surf school specialises in bringing the world of surfing to beginners, with expert tuition for younger and older thrill-seekers alike. The relatively calm but perfectly surfable waves of Bournemouth Bay are ideal for those looking to find their balance with this water sport.

Price range: ££-£££

How to get there: South Western Railway’s network can take you to Bournemouth station. Directly outside, jump on the 50 Breezer bus for around 20 minutes until you reach Branksome Dene. Then follow the signposted path through the trees until you reach the beach.

Hampshire Kitesurfing Centre, Fareham

4a Solent Rd, Stubbington, Fareham PO14 3JP

Already got surfing down to a tee? Or fancy taking the thrills to the next level? Perhaps kitesurfing is more your scene. One of the fastest-growing activity sports of the twenty-first century, kitesurfing involves parachute-like sails designed to pull surfboards. This means the wind draws surfers through the water, resulting in high-flying moments! One, two or three-day accredited courses are available at the Hampshire Kitesurfing Centre, all aimed at introducing you to this truly epic sport. /p>

Price ranges: £££

How to get there: Take the train to Fareham using the South Western Railway network. Outside the station, catch the X5 Solent Rangers bus at Stop Q, then ride for around 15 minutes until you reach the Bells Lane stop. A 21-minute walk along Bells Lane, Crofton Lane, then Carisbrook Avenue and Solent Road will take you to the centre doors.

Ready to make a splash in the South West? Then use South Western Railway’s network to take to the water at these coastal destinations. Browse our ticket types and select the appropriate train tickets for your trip. There are many flexible options, including lower prices when travelling off-peak. Plus, you could save even more money with a Railcard, not to mention savings on hotel stays and meals out through SWR Rewards.

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